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O'Sullivan & Hilliard's The Law of Contract (2018 8 ed). p. 200.

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Click here to download judgment. Wikipedia quotes the germane para.

In cases where it is clearly a common inn or, indeed, where it is uncertain whether it is a common inn or a private hotel, I am of opinion that [2.] a notice in these terms would not exempt the hotel company from liability for negligence but only from any liability as insurers. Indeed, even if it were clearly not a common inn but only a private hotel, I should be of the same opinion. [1. Red] Ample content can be given to the notice by construing it as a warning that the hotel company is not liable, in the absence of negligence. As such it serves a useful purpose. It is a warning to the guest that he must do his part to take care of his things himself, and, if need be, insure them. [3. Green] It is unnecessary to go further and to construe the notice as a contractual exemption of the hotel company from their common law liability for negligence. I agree that the appeal should be dismissed.

  1. Red underline : What does "ample content can be given to the notice" mean?

  2. Sentence 2 : Denning judges that the notice wouldn't "exempt the hotel company from liability for negligence but only from any liability as insurers". But how can content be "ample" (Question 1) if it doesn't exempt liability for negligence?

  3. Green underline : Why "unnecessary to go further"?

2

A tortfeasor is liable if they have committed the tort: in this case negligence. An insurer is liable for damage irrespective of if their acts or omissions contributed to the loss. For example, if I negligently crash into your car, I am liable for your loss, however, if I’m your insurer, I’m liable for your loss even if I’m not there.

A common inn is (under the Act) an insurer of guests goods (up to a certain value) while a private hotel isn’t.

So, the notice would be “ample” to disclaim liability as an insurer if the premises was a private hotel. However, as a post-contract representation it would not limit or remove liability for negligence (which can, in general, be done although it’s rare and can’t override statutory warranties). Therefore, because the hotel was negligent “It is unnecessary to go further” and determine if the hotel was a common inn or a private hotel.

  • Thanks. I uploaded and linked to the judgment. Just double-checking if you already read the judgment before you answered? If not, let me know if it changes your answer. – Chrome Oct 26 at 7:33

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